Monday, July 14, 2008

A plaza at Staff Street

I received the following email this morning from the Campaign for New York's Future (excerpt):

"One goal of New York City's sustainability plan is to put every New Yorker within a ten minute walk from park or open space. Now, the NYC Department of Transportation is working with community partners to launch the NYC Plaza Program to help accomplish this goal, and they want your input!

"The program aims to transform underused streets into vibrant, social public spaces throughout the city.

After racking my brains for a few minutes, I went to the online form and composed this message:

"I would like to see a public plaza installed on Staff Street in Inwood, Manhattan. Staff Street is a one-block connector between Riverside Drive and Dyckman Street. It is currently an ill-paved parking lot on a hill that also provides access for cyclists from the Hudson River Greenway terminus at Riverside Drive and the bike path on Dyckman Street. Most drivers do not use this as a through street, preferring to use the adjacent Henshaw Street instead. Families will often picnic on the grass beside the lot.

"I propose closing Staff Street to automobile traffic and parking, adding a southbound lane to the northbound bicycle lane to provide a two-way Greenway connector, and using the ample remaining space to install pedestrian amenities (seats, planters, etc.).

"Thank you for your time and attention."

Do you have any ideas for public plazas in Inwood? Share them here, and send them to DoT.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ride to Montauk disaster

Sadly, the Ride to Montauk ended up being a complete disaster.

The volunteer staff didn't manage to get all the 66 and 30 milers processed in time for the 7:30 a.m. train to Mastic-Shirley, so many of us missed the train. That put us two hours behind schedule. Then, when we arrived in Mastic, we waited for another hour for the bikes to show up, while half the people got bussed to another rest stop. Three of us who managed to get our bikes started the route. At the start, we accidentally went 6 miles out of our way, but figured out how to get back en route. We really enjoyed the first 17 miles, but then the SAG team picked us up to drive us to Montauk, because there wasn't enough time for us to get to the finish line by 6 p.m. (since so much time had been lost between train and bike fiascos). At that point, two of us bailed, seeing there was no point in being driven to Montauk just to return to Manhattan (and likely miss all the food and lose our bikes again), and took the Hampton Jitney home. I rode home from 86th St and 3rd Ave to Broadway and 207th, so at least I got another 7 miles in.

Thankfully, the organizer is doing the right thing and offering everyone both a refund and free ride next year.

My breaking of the 60-mile limit will have to wait for another time.